Homily – Pentecost Sunday MMVII

Homily – Pentecost Sunday                        May 27, 2007
Pentecost by DUCCIO di Buoninsegna

The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles begins When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled.

We have reached the last and (in many ways) greatest day of the Feast of Easter (cf. the Gospel for the Vigil of Pentecost).  The time for Pentecost, a greek word meaning “The Fiftieth Day,” has been fulfilled.

We end the Easter Season with one of the greatest feasts of our religion:  we celebrate the Day the Holy Spirit came down upon the earth and began to set it ablaze with the Love of God.

Whether it was God the Father’s idea, God the Son’s idea, or the God the Holy Spirit’s own idea, this Day was historically the very day chosen for the Spirit to Descend and for the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church to be born into the world.

And people didn’t start calling this day “Pentecost” because of what happened 50 days after Jesus rose from the dead.  It was named Pentecost over a thousand years before that time!

For the Holy Spirit landed on earth on one of the High Holy Feast Days of the Old Testament, known by the Israelites as “The Feast of Seven Weeks” or in Greek “Pentecost”.

Pentecost back then was the Day, 50 Days after the Passover, that the first fruits of the season were all Harvested.  It was kind of like a late spring Thanksgiving Day for the New Fruits God had gifted His People with after a long cold winter.

This of course was a forshadowing of the New Eternal Fruits of the Holy Spirit God was to Gift His People with on this very day, after the long winter of Sin which began when Adam and Eve fell, was finally over.

Another aspect of the Old Feast of Pentecost was that it was the same Day that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on the top of Mount Sinai, written by God on two Tablets of Stone.

But on this New Feast of Pentecost, God writes His Law not on Stone Tablets, but upon our hearts of flesh.

And there’s one other little way God prepared us in the Old Testament for this great feast.

The Old Pentecost was Fifty Days after the Passover, which was also called the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

For Seven Days after Passover, the Israelites were only to eat flat, unleavened bread.   St. Paul alludes to this when in 1st Corinthians he says Clear out the old yeast (of malice and wickedness), for our passover lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.

The Old Passover was the feast of unleavened Bread, but the Old Pentecost was the Feast of Leavened Bread:  the Day they were explicitly told by God to offer and eat Bread that was leavened with yeast.

And in the same way, the New Pentecost is the Day when the Holy Spirit adds the leaven to the unleavened dough of our souls.   Those who have cleared out the old yeast of sin and evil, now rise by the New Yeast of the Holy Spirit to acts of virtue and goodness.

I will end by quoting Deuteronomy 16:10-11, which is even more applicable today than it was in Moses’ Day:

The Lord says:  You shall then keep (Pentecost) in honor of the LORD, your God, and your gift shall be in proportion to the blessing the LORD, your God has bestowed on you.

In the LORD’s house that day you shall make merry in His presence, together with your son and daughter, your male and female servant, and the priest who belongs to your community, as well as the stranger, the orphan and the widow among you.  Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, and carry out these statutes carefully.

The time for Pentecost has been fulfilled.  May we, this last and greatest day of the Feast of Easter, offer ourselves, soul and body, to the Eternal Holy Spirit of God, and make merry in the Lord’s presence, as we celebrate the Birthday of the Church.

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